In a jeep from Tupiza to Uyuni. Salar de Uyuni. Boundles white till the horizon, nothing but salt. Lots of fun and lots of sunburn.

Travelogue Bolivia 2003
Tupiza to Uyuni – Part 3
Salar de Uyuni

Maybe the most import advantage (though it did not really work out) of our route was that we could choose whether we wanted to see a sunrise or a sunset over the Salar de Uyuni, the largest and highest salt-lake which is some 100km wide. The normal tours from Uyuni arrive there about lunchtime and see neither the one nor the other. We decided to see sunrise and were the first group with this decision since a year as it meant that we had to get up at 2:30am to be at the Salar at five as we wanted to be there before the horizon lit up. But unfortunately this was the first time that rainy season hindered us from getting another mind-blowing experience as the sky was cloudy and there was even a little rain. When the sun rose we just got a brief glimpse of it that was enough to give us an impression how spectacular this might have been.

Salar de Uyuni
the endless Salar – blinding white till the horizon

Sometimes the lake offers a second phenomena we did not see either: If there is some water on the salt plain you can stand in the middle of it and the water reflects the sky so that you have the impression of hovering in the middle of space or sky. Nevertheless our visit on the lake was impressive from the first second. After the sunrise we went to a little cactus covered island were we had breakfast. Did you know that cacti grow only 1 cm each year and can reach a height of 12 m = 1200 years and more? Then we went back out on the lake and had a lunch pick-nick in the middle of the salt, definitely the most bizarre place I ever had lunch. Geraldo got us some amazing salt crystals out of some holes in the topmost salt layers.

Salar de Uyuni - Our guide kneels at a water hole and breaks crystals out of the salt layer.
It looks like ice fishing … but fortunately it wasn’t that cold. At some places there are holes in the upper salt layer which is some 30cm thick at this place. Gerado was breaking us big salt christals out of the saltlake which made nice souvenirs. Beneath the layer were some 80cm of water, then solid salt again.

Then we became a bit silly, did some fun photos. The sun came out and we started to play Frisbee with Keith’s head for about an hour.

Salar de Uyuni - Our group poses on the salt.
Was it the salt or the endless white that made us go crazy? We did have fun.
Salar de Uyuni - We play frisbee with Keith's hat.
Hat-Frisbee (© Keith Christiansen)

Unfortunately we and especially I did underestimate the power of the sun on the white salt plain and I burned my face like never before. Fortunately now everything is okay again an the red has turned into brown.

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